News & media News Diabetics face a higher risk of mouth cancer, with women far more at risk 1 Aug 2018 New research has discovered that women who suffer from diabetes face a dramatically increased chance of developing mouth cancer. The research, published in Diabetologia, discovered that women have a 13 per cent higher chance of developing oral cancer if they suffer from diabetes1. Overall women faced a 27 per cent increase of developing any form of cancer if they had diabetes, while men also faced a 19 per cent increased risk according to the study. With previous research showing close links between diabetes and the development of mouth cancer, as well as other forms of the disease, leading health charity the Oral Health Foundation, is calling on people to be aware of the close links between their oral health and their wider wellbeing. CEO of the charity Dr Nigel Carter OBE, which campaigns tirelessly to raise awareness of mouth cancer, believes the research could help to identify individuals at risk of mouth cancer. Dr Carter said: “This could be a very significant piece of research, and one that could help to save lives. Diabetes has previously been linked to poor oral health, but this new research shows a specific link to mouth cancer. “This makes regular dental visits an absolute must. If your dentists know that you are diabetic, they will check your mouth accordingly. For many years we have known that diabetic patients are more likely to get gum disease and need extra dental care but this is yet another reason for regular checks. “It is important, not just for diabetics but for everyone to be aware of what the signs and symptoms of mouth cancer are. Be alert to ulcers which do not heal within three weeks, red and white patches in the mouth and unusual lumps or swellings in the head and neck area. If you experience any of these visit your dentist immediately. “More people lose their lives to mouth cancer every year in Britain than from cervical and testicular cancer combined. Without early detection, the five-year survival rate for mouth cancer is only 50 per cent but if it is caught early, survival rates can dramatically improve to up to 90 per cent, as well as the quality of life for survivors being significantly increased. “Smoking, drinking alcohol to excess, poor diet and the human papillomavirus (HPV), often transmitted via oral sex, are all lifestyle choices that will increase the risk of developing the disease. As diabetes has now been shown to be another potential risk factor, amending your lifestyle to make sure you take yourself out of harm’s way makes it more important than ever to be mouth aware. In the UK, it is estimated that over four million live with diabetes, with many cases going undiagnosed. Type 2 diabetes, which is closely linked to lifestyle and diet, has been rapidly increasing in recent years and is now one of the world’s most common long-term health conditions. Sources 1. Ohkuma, T., Peters, S. and Woodward, M. (2018). Sex differences in the association between diabetes and cancer: a systematic review and meta-analysis of 121 cohorts including 20 million individuals and one million events. Diabetologia.